When you need to take time off work for medical reasons, or to care for a family member, it can be a worry. It is often hard enough to make ends meet as it is, without having to worry about job security. On top of all that, some states are employment-at-will states, meaning that you might be dismissed from your job at any time for just about any reason.
The Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA, is in place to help when you are in this situation. This act entitles those who are eligible to job-protected leave, albeit unpaid, for specific medical and family reasons. Unfortunately, not all employers follow the terms of the FMLA as they should, as we saw in a previous article. However, unfair and irresponsible behavior such as this can and should be challenged.
The amount of leave you are entitled to depends on your situation. For example, if you have a newborn child, you may take leave totaling up to 12 working weeks within the first year of the child's life. A similar amount of time can be taken in any 12-month period as the result of a condition that prevents an employee from performing his or her role's essential functions. If leave is required to care for a parent, child or spouse who also happens to be a covered service-member, a period of 26 working weeks is permitted.
Of course, there are various other circumstances under which the FMLA applies, as is explained in greater detail by the U.S. Department of Labor website. However, if you are unsure about what you may be entitled to, or you are worried that you have been treated unfairly by your employer, an attorney may be able to provide the advice and support you need.